On 16 May, the Space Shuttle Endeavour was launched en route to the International Space Station (ISS). On board was the large science experiment, AMS, designed to look for evidence of dark matter and antimatter. The flight is Endeavour's last, and it heralds the end of the shuttle era. In parallel with this somewhat technical farewell, we have also had to say goodbye to Thomas Reiter, who has been Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations for the European Space Agency (ESA)since mid-April. Two departures in the area of space exploration were sufficient reason for me to start reflecting on fundamental issues in spaceflight.